List Film

Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius Of James Booker

  • 15

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Bayou Maharajah explores the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, the man Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”

A brilliant pianist, his eccentricities and showmanship belied a life of struggle, prejudice, and isolation. A wild genius with a style that combined elements of rhythm-and-blues, jazz, ragtime and classical music, he gained the nicknames "Piano Prince of New Orleans", "Black Liberace" and "Bayou Maharajah". Illustrated with never-before-seen concert footage, rare personal photos and exclusive interviews, the film paints a portrait of this overlooked genius.

“This winning doc features a can’t-­‐miss subject and plenty of performance footage… A must-­‐see for aficionados of *New Orleans jazz, it’s also accessible to viewers who don’t know a Professor Longhair from a Dr. John.”*

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“In a city bulging with musicians who deserve or have appropriated the title ‘genius’, James Booker, the Piano Prince *of New Orleans, Ambassador of the Ivories, the Black Liberace, clearly had the talent to merit the garland, his style *a wondrous collision of dazzling classical technique, blues feeling and jazz improvisation rooted in stride, ragtime *and boogie woogie.”*

–MOJO MAGAZINE

“For those who only know of the New Orleans rhythm and blues piano tradition through the likes of Fats Domino *and Professor Longhair, Booker's playing may come as a revelation. Melding blues, jazz and classical, it pays *scant regard to the traditional rules of song or composition.”

–THE GUARDIAN

Director: Lily Keber

Run time: 90 mins

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